Jones ready to move up in second year with Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — One thing Mac Jones learned in his rookie year is that a member of the New England Patriots can’t live in the past.

Not in the last game, the previous quarter or in the play that has already happened.

Jones has allowed himself an exception to that rule as he enters his second year in the NFL.

In the locker is a black-and-white photo of Jones with his head down as he walked off the field in last season’s 47-17 wild-card loss to Buffalo.

“I’ve always been a fan of having motivational stuff in the locker,” he said. “I have always done it. That was last year, but I think it’s motivation to come here and work every day.”

As Jones enters his second year, he will be a key player in a third straight season in which the Patriots will have to adjust to big changes between seasons.

Three years after Tom Brady’s departure, only five starters remain from the 2018 Super Bowl-winning team. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who was named coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, also left.

Bill Belichick has to adjust months from turning 70 and entering his 48th straight season as an NFL coach.

After being eliminated early in the last playoffs, the goal was to put better pieces around Jones.

They did so by adding veteran DeVante Parker and speedy rookie Tyquan Thornton at receiver. Running back Ty Montgomery is a solid candidate to fill James White’s shoes, following his retirement.


The offensive line experienced the difficulties of having new members during practice camp. Trent Brown returned to his natural position at left tackle. The learning curve for first-round pick Cole Strange accelerated as he was likely to fill Shaq Mason’s position at left guard. Mike Onwenu would return to right.


Improving the speed of the defense, especially at linebacker, was a focal point of the preseason.

Matt Judon, who led the team with 12 1/2 sacks in 2021, believes they are playing faster than they were a year ago and will benefit from the return of Anfernee Jennings, who was injured last season.

“This is how we want to play,” Judon said. “Mentally we want to play fast as well as downhill. We want to be aggressive.”

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Jones ready to move up in second year with Patriots